Which gives better results, a blog or a newsletter?
We’ll look at considerations in picking the winner for you. The points aren’t listing in any particular order.
IN THIS CORNER: Blogs
The more quality content you publish online, the more likely you are to be ranked high by Google and considered an authority in your subject area.
— Forbes, June 2013
- Makes you known to strangers
- 100% permission-based: subscribers opt-in on their own
- 100% free with Google Blogger (no hosting, optimized for search) [the platform for this blog]
- Two-way communication: readers can leave comments
- Shareable via social networks
- Old content can get new traffic (see case study)
- Improves your Google Author Rank
- Public content helps build trust
- Can't see who's reading: could be competitors, though this may not matter
- Audience takes time to build
- Visitors rarely subscribe and you have no way to contact them
- Writing takes time (ideal is at least once a week)
- No privacy: you're visible to the world (which could be a plus)
The Case Of Seth GodinSeth Godin is an author and public speaker (e.g., at The Linchpin Session). He's also a major blogger with quality posts daily. He doesn't have a newsletter or use Twitter. Since you can subscribe to his blog, you are getting a newsletter of sorts but he won’t send you personalized emails.
Since Seth already has a large audience, his approach works well for him.
IN THIS CORNER: Newsletters
Email marketing is a great way to reach your customers where they are without spending a lot of money. But it’s a big responsibility, too — people don’t give their email addresses to just anyone. — Forbes, Oct 2012
- Lets you see who's reading and what's read (by person and in total)
- You can add subscribers with no effort on their part (with their prior permission)
- Very flexible (send messages on demand, segment your list)
- Takes little time (e.g., fine to send once a month)
- Builds a mailing list, a valuable asset
- Might link with your CRM for even better analytics
- Allows "drip campaigns" to send a series of prescheduled emails
- Lets you exclude competitors as subscribers
- Hidden from search engines (like an individual email)
- Can make your list available to others (i.e., you send out an email from someone else to your mailing list)
- Less writing (your content can be links to articles by others, as in Transparence)
- You can segment your list to run multiple campaigns or multiple newsletters
- Must be permission-based (limits your reach)
- Requires a clean, up-to-date mailing list if you’re sending to current contacts (takes time to prepare)
- Hidden from search engines (though you can post issues online)
- You can be reported as a spammer (even if you aren't)
- Content must be valuable to your audience (not just your self-promotion)
- Extra features and more subscribers cost more (though the basics may be free)
- A perception that they're salesy (since they often are)
- The cost increases with your audience size (generally not a problem unless you're getting the wrong subscribers)
The Case of Dan PinkDan Pink is primarily an author (e.g., To Sell Is Human) and public speaker. He blogs and has a newsletter but both are sporadic. This month, he announced that he's stopped blogging
“We’re going to shutter the blog and instead expand and deepen our collection of videos, articles, and guides on working smarter and living better”. — Dan Pink, Jul 17, 2013Dan will communicate through his newsletter, which has over 71,000 subscribers. If you don’t already subscribe, sign up. You’ll get a newsletter which is useful and interesting. You never know what you’ll get. Here is the current issue.
Dan is effectively changing from two-way communications to a broadcaster. That approach can work since he’s well known.
The Winner Is …If you're established and have built a quality contact list, you have a valuable asset you're probably underusing. A newsletter could work well for you.
If you're new, you may not have a mailing list yet. A newsletter is a way to build one since you now have something you can offer everyone.
In my case, I started with a blog but that was in 2007. Today, I might start with a newsletter like Dan Pink’s. The ideal is having both, but you can start with one.